Kaprielian, four Oakland A’s relievers hold down Texas Rangers in 3-1 win

After a disastrous June, things are starting to look a lot better for the Oakland A’s – at least by their season standards.

With their 3-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday night in front of 10,190 at the Coliseum, the A’s matched a season-high three-game winning streak and secured a series win over Texas. The A’s have won 10 games this month – a drastic improvement from June when they won just five times.

The A’s had an eventful sixth inning that began with reliever Domingo Acevedo inheriting a bases-loaded jam from Kirby Snead. Acevedo matched up with Charlie Culberson, who was pinch-hitting for Kole Calhoun. It was the situation that A’s manager Mark Kotsay wanted – if the Rangers were going to pinch hit – and a big moment for Acevedo, who’s had success in those spots.

“He’s got a lot of confidence and he’s pitching with that,” Kotsay said. “When he came I said ‘Go ahead and give me a double play here.’”

Acevedo did just that.

After throwing four-straight sliders, he got Culberson to hit into a double play to end the threat. Acevedo celebrated with excitement and received a standing ovation from the crowd as he came off the mound.

“That’s how you win ballgames,” A’s starter James Kaprielian, who pitched five shutout innings and held the Rangers to two hits, said of Acevedo. “That could’ve easily gone the other way but it didn’t.”

Kostay’s confidence in Acevedo has echoed with the 28-year-old reliever, who appeared in his 44th game – the most by an American League relief pitcher this season. He made his major league debut last year with the A’s after spending many years in the New York Yankees organization, where he represented the Yankees in the 2017 Futures Game. He’s finally found his spot in Oakland this season.

“I get goosebumps just thinking about that,” Acevedo said about the A’s confidence in him through a translator. “At first I was a little nervous because not everything was going my way, but luckily the A’s have been very supportive with me. They believed in me and I continue to get support from them.”

The momentum from Acevedo’s double play may have fueled the A’s unorthodox rally where they broke through with two runs in the bottom of the inning without a hit.

Vimael Machín, Ramón Laureano and Sean Murphy drew walks off Texas reliever Dennis Santana to load the bases and the A’s went up 1-0 on a fielding error by Nathaniel Lowe. Chad Pinder made it 2-0 with a sacrifice fly that brought in Laureano.

“I feel like we’re playing better baseball and putting up great at-bats together as a team,” Machín said. “Winning everyday feels good. I feel like as a team it’s way better because now we have momentum in the second half… It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”

Former A’s star Marcus Semien answered in the seventh by lacing a one-run double just out of the reach of A’s outfielder Stephen Piscotty to make it 2-1. The A’s regained their two-run cushion in the bottom of the seventh when Nick Allen, who advanced from first to third on a throwing error by Texas catcher Meibrys Viloria, scored on a sacrifice fly by Machín.

Zach Jackson struck out two in the ninth inning and picked up his second career save.

Things are starting to pick up for the A’s. Right before the All-Star break, Oakland took two out of three games against the Houston Astros, who are in first place in the American League West. The A’s have now won three out of four games since returning from the break.

“You always worry after a three-day break how the team is going to come out but right now I feel like we’re playing good, clean baseball,” Kotsay said. “The at-bats have been better collectively and that’s led to some of our success right now.”

The A’s will send All-Star Paul Blackburn tomorrow afternoon to face Texas’ Martín Pérez as Oakland looks to sweep its first series of the season. First pitch is scheduled for 1:07.

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